Stories I’m Digging

I wanted to bring you all a second installment of what I’m affectionately referring to as “Stories I’m Digging” because it’s October 15th, and 15 is divisible by 3, and that’s sufficient enough for me. See, we play things very fast and loose here.

Here we go:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Available on Hulu, this is a powerful and exceptional show with an almost chilling premise. Throw in incredible storytelling with a gifted cast and it’s practically impossible to not binge at a clip. I’m naturally curious so I took to Wiki to learn more. Remarkably, I dodged spoilers. Unremarkably, I fell down a dark Wiki rabbit hole only to emerge answerless. The teleplay is based on a book that was published in 1985, however, the show makes uniquely 21st-century references to Uber and iPhone. You can understand why I’m more confused now than I was when I started watching. I’ve decided to pause on the streaming because I obviously need to get my paws on the book. Apparently, 300 or so New Yorkers shared in my idea because I’m 300th or something in NYPL’s queue for the Kindle version. Please don’t let my weird and incoherent rambling detract from the quality of the story.

 

  • Just Kids – Patti Smith is the writer I hope to be when I grow up. Let it be known that she’s a fellow Jersey Girl and that counts for a whole lot. Her story is a lyrical and emotionally charged memoir which chronicles her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe set in the vibrant beatnik scene of 1960s New York. If you’re in the mood for an honest, self-aware and Dickensian story, check it out.

 

  • Kaitlyn Bristowe’s Off the Vine podcast – Because not everything has to be so highbrow all of the time. The kookie Canadian won my love and adoration when she competed on Chris Soules’s season of the Bachelor. She was totally out of place, way cooler than everyone else and I dug her apathy. In her podcast, she’s authentic and unapologetic. The beauty of Bristowe’s podcast is that she’s essentially doing the same thing as you and your besties do; sitting around, sharing stories and drinking vats of wine, but with microphones. I particularly enjoy the moments when she’s fully in the bag and blabbing Bachelor franchise secrets.

Cheers!

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Routines

 

Every Tuesday I take the 4:31 pm NJ Transit express train from New York Penn to New Brunswick. I walk to Surf Taco and order my dinner. Once I’ve finished enjoying my two tacos and Diet Coke, I walk to my class.

I take the 9:07 pm NJ Transit local train back to New York Penn. I hop the Brooklyn bound 2/3 and walk into what is usually an empty apartment because Chris is still at work. I pour myself a glass of wine and fall asleep around 11:30 pm while watching The Office.

Sharing a snapshot to my routine to illustrate the monotony. I find great comfort in routine.

Since I left my job to focus on finishing graduate school, writing and embarking out on a new path, I’ve had to develop a new routine. To say that finding my new stride has been a challenge would be a gross understatement. Creating this new routine has been and continues to be an evolution. When I first set out on this journey, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be for me.

I graduated from undergrad in 2009, and I merrily joined the scores of people working the 40 hour week. The 9 to 5 jam served me well until it didn’t. I appropriated the routine I lived for eight years on my freelancer/ full-time graduate student jam. My friends, it does not translate.

I failed hard at trying to build my new life on my old life. Typing that and reading it feels like a no-brainer. Without the clarity I have today, I imposed the habits and routine from my 9 to 5 life. Classic square peg in a round hole.

On the rare occasions I stepped outside or went to the gym during “working hours,” I was met with a wave of self-inflicted guilt. You know the sad desk lunch that defines the working world? I ate lunch, that’s right, at my desk…alone…in my own apartment…like a robotic weirdo. If I didn’t complete my entire (and completely unrealistic) to-do list, I felt like my day was wasted. I was my own brutal critic during a time I was trying out what worked and what didn’t work for me.

Once I broke out from that routine, it has been marginally easier.

There are some aspects that I don’t foresee changing; there’s no boss, no set schedule, no colleague to gossip with about the Bachelor. Loneliness and isolation are real. I’m only a few months in, but I understand how some writers go insane. Like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, I get it now. Chris should probably keep a watchful eye on me this winter. Kidding. Totally kidding.

I no longer force myself to sit at my desk if nothing good is happening. I’ve learned that creativity is unpredictable, and inspiration and research can come from unlikely sources. I still use my planner and have blocks of the day carved out for certain tasks. Above all else, I’ve learned to be kinder to myself.

Are there any seasoned bloggers, writers, WFH all-stars who have this all figured out? Please share your secrets with me!

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#CreateGood

Last night, I walked up to SoHo for Brit+Co‘s #CreateGood pop-up event.

In spite of the rain, I floated home on a cloud of positive vibes and girl power.

When you gather a bunch of like-minded lady thinkers, creators, and doers, a little magic is bound to happen.

Essentially a pep-rally for intelligent women, Brit+Co’s first-ever New York event is a “digital, social, and experiential conversation leaning into these needs and empowering women to be their best selves.”

As a loyal and avid Brit+Co reader for many years now, I had a vague idea of what I would find. I knew the pop-up would be visually appealing but also content-rich, much like the publication. To this end, I had high expectations for a media company that I herald in such a high regard.

Brit+Co delivered.

I was greeted by a sensory delight. An Instagrammer’s fantasy. A universe of succulents, tapestries of yarn, neon lights, puffy cloud installations, mosaics, tables of baked goods, basketballIMG_5537 hoops and a Mexican tiled Don Julio bar slinging artisanal cocktails (gracias por el tequila!) for all to imbibe. On the aesthetic spectrum from the High Line to the Manhattan Bridge from DUMBO — #CreateGood was Willy Wonka whimsical meets Josh Baskin’s loft in Big.

Beyond the scenery, the event intended to elevate women and spread kindness. I scored tickets for #CreateGood Basically and the #CreateGood Simply workshops.

Claire Saffitz, senior food editor of Bon Appetit and Basicallyimparted pearls of culinary wisdom for geared toward those us of who are the chef de cuisine of our own kitchens. Cooking around here is a binary outcome. I waver between making myself gin and cereal or I use every dish, appliance, pan, pot, and surface of our kitchen. It’s a production and there’s not a whole lot of balance to the equation. Enter Basically.  Capped at ten ingredients with minimal prep time, Basically shares incredible and budget-conscious recipes.

IMG_5530Saffitz implored the audience to stick to a triad of a salt, a fat and an acid for every meal. She shared useful (and cheap) pantry items to keep on hand. Saffitz also shared that pasta ordered via Seamless is generally a hard pass.

Erin Loechner, author of Chasing Slow, is a breath of calming energy.  I already flashed my super cool NYPL card and put a hold on her book. She shared her full-circle journey and sage wisdom about how to “live as if your heart matters.” She provided realistic action items for those of us who struggle with staying focused, on point and appreciating the tiny moments.

If you’re in the city, the pop-up runs through the weekend! Visit and say ‘hey!’

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It’s October 3rd

When Mean Girls premiered, I was Cady Heron’s age. I was navigating the minefield that was 11th grade my suburban New Jersey with my high school’s own band of Plastics.

I might not have gone to high school in the age of social media but the teenage tropes have a property that enables them to transcend all space and time. Don’t believe me? There’s an entire literary genre dedicated to this, it’s called YA. My insecurities, awkwardness, and angst weren’t unique – I just thought they were. Jealousy, unrequited young love, malaise and feeling uncool are rites of passage.

Insecurity is a funny thing because it’s something we’re assured by elder statesmen that is something we’ll grow out of with time. It’s definitely not a recurring issue you’ll wrestle with as a 30-year-old.

Sarcasm.

I authored a piece (now live – please go read it) that I’m particularly proud of, and I went a little native while conducting my research.

If you haven’t read it, I shared the stories of three Millennial entrepreneurs who are crushing their games. Due to a word limit and the limited attention span of the digital native, I only included three of the interviews I conducted. To provide a peek behind the curtain, I had no shortage of material. I had interviews with about a dozen or so sources who all shared their thoughts on social media and how it triggers anxiety, envy, and jealousy.

And those were just the formal interviews.

I have some incredible women in my tribe. They are my peers, my soul sisters and my lady loves. They are bosses, scholars and radiant goddesses of light. A few of them are priestesses of the highest degree – they are mommies. These women do not have a reason in this world or any other to feel insecure for a single moment but they do.

In separate conversations with my gal pals about my research on the anxieties conjured up by social media, they all agreed that social media is an absurdly strong magnet that pulls us in. But unlike a regular magnet, it makes us feel like trash about ourselves.

Occasionally, scrolling through social media transports me back to my early 2000s self. It leaves me feeling insecure, awkward and crappy. I don’t have the right wardrobe, dog (or any dog ☹), make-up, body or the disposable income that affords me preposterous vacations in every glamorous corner of the world. All of those things belong to the social media Plastics, and they seize every opportunity to remind me that it’s theirs and not mine.

Hold up – I thought all these feelings of self-doubt were supposed to vanish along with my teenage mood swings or on the day I got my braces removed?

I was inspired by my friends and by the people who were kind enough to allow me to interview them. I wrote the article to share their stories and to hopefully contribute to the rumblings of the tiny conversation starting to happen to discuss the B side of social media.

Raise your hand if you have been personally victimized by Regina George social media. I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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Stories I’m Digging

If you haven’t caught on by now, this project is all about stories.

There’s an abundance of threes in stories — three acts, three beats, third times the charm, three bears, Three Blind MiceThree Little Pigs, Rumpelstiltskin allowed three guesses, three wishes from a genie, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Three Musketeers, I could go on.

I’m kicking off a new series where I share three stories I’m currently digging so much that I’m compelled to share.

The inaugural post feels appropriate on the 27th because 27 is divisible by three! Someone, please double check my math…

Am I reaching on this one? Three letters, y-e-s.

1) Jerry Before Seinfeld

[Cue Seinfeld synthesizer theme song]

Chris and I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to see Seinfeld perform his stand-up at the Beacon Theater this past Friday. Even if Seinfeld’s ‘neurotic New Yorker’ schtick isn’t your bag, the guy is a master of his craft and one of the great American raconteurs.

As expected, the living legend and cultural icon did not disappoint.

His Netflix special is about his life before Seinfeld. His journey is a universal story of humble beginnings, determination, passionate pursuits and trusting in yourself to see where your talents will take you.

Netflix it. It’s good.

2) Younger

This summer I was on a cross-country flight and I binged the entire first season of Younger as my in-flight entertainment. Sutton Foster (who’s a Disney princess incarnate) brings her plucky and adorable self to TV Land’s Younger, now in its fourth season (I’m a late adopter).

While the premise isn’t exactly rooted in reality, this comedy is a coming of age story Younger-TV-Landfrom the perspective of Foster’s character, Liza, a 40-year-old divorcée with a teenage daughter living in the suburbs of New Jersey. Desperate for a fresh start and saddled with her daughter’s college tuition, she attempts to return to her publishing career that she left roughly 15 years prior. Millennials are now calling the shots and decide Liza’s too old for the entry-level racket, but too inexperienced for the roles suited for someone her age. She lies about her age rewrites her story and lands a role as a marketing assistant at a publishing house and moves to Williamsburg — as a 26-year-old.

Liza’s double-life is filled with generational gaffes, a sexy 20-something tattoo artist boyfriend, topical cultural references and heartwarming moments.

3) The Rules Do Not Apply

New Yorker staff writer Ariel Levy’s new-ish memoir on love, loss, infidelity, substance abuse, existential cause-and-effects and believing you operate on a plane that is impervious to negativity. Levy recounts her highs and the lowest of lows with

51MYHqWNYyL._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_a healthy dose of self-reflection, honesty, and criticism.

 

Levy’s candid account of her life will render you captive, and I promise, you’ll read it cover to cover in one sitting.

 

 

And that’s all I got — please share the stories you’re currently digging. I’m always looking for recos!

Signing off with three letters…

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Grad School Grind

On Tuesdays, I go to school. This semester, I’m taking two courses which equal six credits. My other class is online, which is truly magnificent and really appeals to the part of me that relishes in drinking wine and not wearing pants while I’m in the privacy of my own home. Seriously, how great is the internet?

If you’re just joining me, you should know that I’m a graduate student. I graduate in grad student memeDecember and I’ll be honest, it bums me out that my classroom education will soon conclude. There’s always a Ph.D., but I highly doubt Uncle Sam will float me another nickel to subsidize said Ph.D. My earning’s potential isn’t what you’d consider strong. And there’s the implication that you’ll pay back the loans. [Nervous laugh]. A Ph.D. would also test the boundaries of Chris’s patience. And for those reasons, I’m out in December.

 

I’m the kid you probably hated in class.

  1. I sit in the first few rows.
  2. I raise my hand a lot.
  3. I bring up next week’s assignment when the professor hasn’t.

Why?

  1. I’m super nearsighted, so sitting up front is more of a necessity than any ulterior toady motive.
  2. I’m a talker.
  3. After going to school for 18 years, I’ve acquired a little bit of tact and don’t ask the professor about the assignment while still in class. I email the day after.

That’s how this morning started.

So many of my followers have been writing in my comments and clamoring to learn more about my graduate school grind. That’s a lie. No one’s commented yet, but please comment! Promise I’ll reply!

I took the GRE in December 2012. Standardized testing isn’t my bag. Full disclosure: neither is math. There’s a special place reserved in heaven for all of my math teachers and private tutors for their dedication. Anyway, GRE scores have a shelf life of five years. My score sat around for four years. I always had the MCM (that’s master of communication and media) program at Rutgers in mind. The timing was never right.

When the timing was right, I applied. Praise, I was accepted!

My program is big on electives and that really spoke to me because I fancy myself something of a flower child. There are designated tracks, but there’s also the opportunity for electives, independent study, and exploration. I’m able to explore classes on research, digital journalism, crisis communication, transmedia storytelling, organizational communication and more. All of my professors have been delightful and have brought their own wisdom and perspective from their impressive careers in academia or in journalism. My classmates are also cool. An overall great experience.

Beyond the work, the challenge is balancing it all. Not like anyone’s forcing you to be there in undergrad, but it’s been my experience that there’s even less of that invisible driver as a grad student. Fortunately, I love the subjects I’m learning. My genuine interest is my intrinsic motivator.

Living the student life in the non-student world is something I struggle with constantly.

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As a commuter, I feel very disconnected from campus life, but that’s probably for the best. I didn’t enroll in graduate school to write the undergrad sequel. Before I started school full-time, I knew I would be on a student’s budget, but that idea didn’t crystallize until it was my reality. Additionally, there’s actual guilt associated with doing regular things like getting drunk on the couch and watching Sunday football because I know there’s always an assignment I could be doing instead. There’s also guilt associated with blogging because I should definitely be doing homework right now.

Special shoutout to those who’ve expressed your love and support for this little project. You’re all amazing!

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The Journey from Jersey Girl to City Girl

In 2014 I moved to New York City for a very clichéd reason – for a boy. The aforementioned boy quickly changed his mind and his desire for a future with me just a few short months after my last box was unpacked. He got our once shared 1 bed/1 bath Upper West Side pre-war apartment and I got my life back. Decent trade.

I’ve come to refer to this moment in time as my nomadic phase.

I don’t even remember wanting to be around myself during the months surrounding my breakup in early 2015. I wanted to be nowhere and everywhere. I would walk to and from my office on Third & 45th to my nightmare of a sublet on Amsterdam & 85th. I often walked from one end of Manhattan Island to the other just to pass time. As I aimlessly wandered, I reflected on my emotions and attempted to understand how a relationship derailed and went up in flames almost as quickly as it started.

After a particularly prickly exchange with my ex, I dipped into my airline loyalty miles and with reckless abandon bought a flight to Paris. In August 2015 I rode my bike through the Loire Valley of France for two weeks. Each day was filled with mission and purpose, two things

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Somewhere in the Loire Valley, France. My version of the Tour de France was heavy on the cheese and light on the doping.

my life was severely lacking at the time. With my primitive grasp of French, I pedaled about 200 miles on a rental vélo (translation: bicycle) through the bucolic countryside. I cycled through the sun and the rain, up hills and down hills, through sunflower fields, and stopped for brie and wine in villages out of Beauty and the Beast.

I was liberated. I was empowered. My quads, akin to that of a Greek goddess, propelled my body as my mind reconciled the failed relationship. I rubbed some dirt in my metaphorical wounds and moved on. I was also drunk on French wine and ideas. I dreamed of starting over in a new city and seriously entertained a job opportunity in Philadelphia.

The universe had other plans.

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My stoop, November 2016

I accepted an exciting new job in New York City and moved into the most adorable Upper West Side brownstone studio this world will ever know. (Seriously, prepare yourself for a future post which will serve as a Nicholas Sparks-esque saccharine love letter to my studio.) To the delight of those closest to me, my smile was back.

I attended the blessed union of my former boss turned dear friend in October 2015. I was chatting with my friend’s new husband during the reception and he introduced me to one of his friends. The groom facilitated our introduction by saying that we both lived in New York City. Considering we were attending a wedding in Jersey City, the fact that two people lived across the river didn’t exactly qualify as a small world scenario.

The groom disappeared and the guy and I were left on our own to forge a conversation. Because my wedding date bailed at the eleventh hour, there was a seat open at my table. The guy asked me if he could sit down and I said ‘yes’.

About a week later the guy from the wedding texted me with the instruction to “pick a spot on Ninth” for an after-work beer. I was appalled. I interpreted his blasé attitude and blatant disregard for pre-date research as disinterested. I thought he was trying to be a good guy and take out his friend’s new wife’s friend. I didn’t want to go. I even had an excused prepared. At the behest of my best friend, I picked a spot on Ninth and met the guy from the wedding for an after-work beer.

The guy from the wedding goes by the name of Chris.

Chris and I now live together in Tribeca. He’s the coolest. Ever.

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